Cheapest Pay As You Go Bundles: The Best Prepaid Plans For Your Mobile
February 15th, 2017
With a Pay As You Go bundle, you can convert your credit into a one-month allowance of calls, texts and mobile internet. We compare the UK’s best value Pay As You Go bundles.
In the UK, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to Pay As You Go deals. With more than 60 Pay As You Go bundles across 12 different mobile networks, the strongest deals can now rival those found on a Pay Monthly contract.
To get the best value from your Pay As You Go tariff, you’ll normally need to convert your credit into a 30-day bundle. This is a little bit like buying your airtime in bulk. Rather than paying for usage on a per-minute, per-text and per-megabyte basis, you just buy a 30-day bundle to cover all of your usage. If you’re a regular mobile user, this should save you money compared to traditional Pay As You Go. You’ll also keep full control over how much you spend, with no need to sign any contracts or to undergo a credit check.
In the UK, there’s a wide range of Pay As You Go bundles available to choose from. In this article, we’ll compare the best value Pay As You Go bundles currently available to buy.
PAYG Bundles: How Do They Work?
When choosing a Pay As You Go tariff, it’s important to understand the two methods of paying for your airtime:
|Pay As You Go Bundles||Traditional Pay As You Go|
|Best for regular mobile users and smartphone users.||Best for light users who don’t have a smartphone.|
|Get a 30-day bundle with calls, texts & data included. Pay a fixed amount which is known in advance.||Pay on a per-minute, per-text and per-megabyte basis. Rates are typically higher compared to a bundle.|
|Unused allowances expire after 30 days, after which you’ll need to buy another bundle.||Your credit doesn’t expire providing you keep the SIM card active.|
|No credit check & no contracts to sign.||No credit check & no contracts to sign.|
In the article below, we’ll be comparing the best value Pay As You Go bundles. If you’re a light user wanting traditional Pay As You Go, you should instead see our comparison of classic Pay As You Go deals.
A Brief Overview Of PAYG Bundles
In the UK, Pay As You Go bundles have been available since 2010. Having originally launched in response to growing smartphone adoption, bundles combine some of the benefits of Pay Monthly (e.g. low costs and certainty over how much you’ll spend each month) with the benefits of traditional Pay As You Go (e.g. lots of flexibility, no credit checks and no contracts).
With a bundle, the main difference is you’ll now be using your Pay As You Go credit to buy airtime in bulk. Instead of paying for usage on a per-minute, per-text and per-megabyte basis, you instead buy a 30-day bundle to cover all of your usage. The advantage is you’ll get much lower rates and certainty over how much you’ll spend. For instance, a £10 top-up could buy you a 30-day bundle with 600 minutes, unlimited texts and 1.5GB of internet. On traditional Pay As You Go, this would only get you up to 250 minutes and 250MB of internet.
Traditional Pay As You Go tariffs are still available on the market and can be a better option for light users who don’t have a smartphone. On traditional Pay As You Go, your credit won’t expire providing your SIM card remains active (this normally means using your phone at least once every 6 months).
At present, our recommended bundle costs £10/month on Pay As You Go from ASDA Mobile:
ASDA Mobile is our recommended network for anyone wanting an all-round good value Pay As You Go bundle.
For just £10/month, you’ll get 600 minutes, unlimited texts and 1.5GB of internet. This is four times as many minutes and three times more data to use each month compared to EE’s £10 Everything Pack.
If you’re looking for a 4G-ready bundle with coverage from O2, we recommend giffgaff’s goodybag bundles:
giffgaff is another highly popular network for their Pay As You Go bundles. They offer 3G and 4G coverage from the O2 network.
The most popular bundle on giffgaff is their £10/month goodybag. This gives you 500 minutes, unlimited texts and 2GB of 4G internet. This is twice as much data and twice as many minutes as you’d get on O2 for the same monthly price.
For heavy users, giffgaff has a competitive range of bundles with more data each month (e.g. 3GB of data for £12/month and 5GB of data for £15/month). There’s also a £20 goodybag with Always On data (unlimited downloads with the first 6GB at full 4G speeds).
Through the rest of this article, we’ll be comparing the Pay As You Go bundles available on each UK network.
In the tables below, you can hover your mouse over the mobile network’s logo to find out which network coverage provider they’re using (i.e. whether they’re using coverage from EE, O2, Three or Vodafone). You can also place your mouse over the data allowance for further information about download speeds and tethering.
Less than £10/month
There are currently seven mobile networks offering a Pay As You Go bundle for less than £10 per month. Most of them are low-cost virtual network operators that piggyback on one of the main network coverage providers:
- ASDA Mobile uses coverage from EE (see our review).
- giffgaff uses coverage from O2 (see our review).
- iD Mobile uses coverage from Three (see our review).
- Lycamobile uses coverage from O2 (see our review).
- Tello uses coverage from Three (see our review).
- Tesco Mobile uses coverage from O2 (see our review).
The cheapest Pay As You Go bundles start from about £3 to £5 per month. For this, you’ll typically get in the region of 100 minutes and 100MB of data (100MB = 0.1GB):
From £7/month, you can get 300 minutes, unlimited texts and 500MB of internet (500MB = 0.5GB):
At the £10/month price point, there are currently 12 mobile networks offering a Pay As You Go bundle.
Our recommended bundle can be found on ASDA Mobile. For just £10/month, you’ll get 600 minutes, unlimited texts and 1.5GB of internet. ASDA Mobile gives you 2G and 3G coverage from the EE network (you can check your coverage here).
For a 4G-ready alternative, we currently recommend giffgaff’s £10/month goodybag. It comes with 500 minutes, unlimited texts and 2GB of 4G internet. As an alternative, giffgaff also has a £12 goodybag with 3GB of data.
The following table compares Pay As You Go bundles currently available from £10/month:
For £15 per month, we’d recommend giffgaff’s £15 goodybag bundle. You’ll get 1,000 minutes, unlimited texts and 5GB of internet. You’ll get high-speed 4G coverage from the O2 network.
If you’re a heavy data user, giffgaff’s £18 goodybag can be a good choice with 2000 minutes, unlimited texts and 6GB of 4G internet.
For £20 per month, giffgaff offers an Always On goodybag. This gives you unlimited downloads with the first 6GB per month at full 4G speeds. You’ll also get unlimited calling and unlimited texting included in the goodybag.
As an alternative, Three has a £20 bundle with 12GB of 4G internet (but with only 300 minutes to use each month). A benefit of choosing the bundle from Three is you’ll get access to the Feel At Home offer (this allows you to use your phone in 42 countries at no extra charge).
£25/month and more
The following Pay As You Go bundles are available for £25/month or more:
The price of bundles and their inclusive allowances can sometimes change without prior warning. If you’ve noticed a mistake in the tables above, please contact us by leaving a comment below. You can also send me an e-mail and I’ll endeavour to update the information as quickly as possible.
Sources for tariff information: shop.ee.co.uk, store.three.co.uk, store.three.co.uk, lebara.co.uk, lycamobile.co.uk, tescomobile.com, tescomobile.com, freesim.vodafone.co.uk, mobile.asda.com, mobile.lebara.com, payg.thephone.coop, shop.tescomobile.com, tello.co.uk, giffgaff.com, idmobile.co.uk, o2.co.uk. Last updated on 28th February 2017.
For more information on the best Pay As You Go deals, see our guide to free Pay As You Go SIM card offers. You may also find it useful to see our guide on mobile coverage and on transferring your phone number from one mobile network to another.
My passion is helping people to get the most out of their mobile phone. I've been blogging at Ken's Tech Tips since 2005.
Aside from writing about mobile technology, my interests are in software development, digital marketing and physics. Outside of the blog, I work with numerous technology companies helping them to explain their product and helping them to market it to consumers. Please get in touch for more information.